Beloved Pensacola bus driver loses fight with COVID-19

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A beloved bus driver for the Escambia County Area Transit died of COVID-19 complications Monday.

James McIntyre, 70, had served as a bus driver with ECAT for 39 years before he contracted COVID-19. He was getting ready to retire.

WKRG News 5 talked to friends of McIntyre’s on Thursday. They said McIntyre was a special person who took pride in his job.

“He was an individual that never came to work without his uniform being pressed,” said Michael Lowery, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1395. “He always had a positive attitude. He always had a smile on his face.”

For nearly four decades, McIntyre drove routes all over Pensacola, including to NAS Pensacola and near West Florida hospital.

Lowery said McIntyre was especially kind to riders and would offer advice.

“He would offer kind words and spiritual wisdom,” he said.

McIntyre’s longtime friend Willie Carter said the two knew each other since the 1970s. They used to play basketball together, Carter said.

McIntyre was competitive.

“When he played on the court, he played basketball,” Carter said. “He didn’t try to hurt you, but he had a way of winning a game without hurting your feelings.”

The news of his passing was devastating to Carter and other friends who knew him well.

“When his wife called my wife and told us what happened, I said, ‘stop,’” McIntyre’s longtime friend Jerry Stallworth said. “Don’t tell me nothing else. He’s gone.”

McIntyre was the No. 2 senior driver at ECAT at the time of his death. Carter is No. 1. So, they called each other “No. 1” and “No. 2.”

Carter says not anymore.

“Sometimes, when he and I used to walk across the parking lot, he would call me No. 1 and I’d call him No. 2,” he said. “My heart today — it might seem like a big joke — but James, you are No. 1. You are No. 1. And we’ll share that.”

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